The world is feeling heavy right now, with so much suffering, grief and fear. It's easy to get pulled down a rabbit hole on social media or the news, and slip into a state of overwhelm and despair. I think it’s important to feel the feelings: breathe, cry, allow the emotions to move through you. This isn’t a post about forcing positivity or seeing the world through rose coloured glasses. It makes sense to feel stressed, anxious, and worried right now. It makes sense to feel sad and angry right now. We need to allow ourselves to acknowledge these emotions and give ourselves permission to feel them.
I’m sharing some of the strategies that I use, that help me take care of myself right now. I learned many of these from reading and rereading Gabby Bernstein’s books. I have read and listened to some of them four or five times.
Ask yourself: How can I be of service? When the world feels heavy and we’re stuck in our own heads, one of the best things that we can do is to ask how we can be of service. How can we help someone else? Sometimes the needs seem too great, and anything that we can do could barely make a dent - I understand that. We donate goods, money or volunteer. Just know that even reaching out to a Jewish or Palestinian friend to see how they’re doing or to tell them you’re thinking of them is a start. Beyond that, finding the ways that you can use your unique skills and talents to help someone else. One of the mantras that I’ve carried with me for years is Peace begins with me and I believe it truly does. It begins with each of us sharing acts of service, acts of kindness and shining our light wherever we go. One of the best ways to feel a little bit better is to help someone else.
Lean in to small joys: spend some time outdoors in nature, talk to or see a friend, move your body in a way that feels good for you, write, journal, draw, play music. Find whatever can create a small amount of joy for you, and do more of that. It’s okay to want to feel a little bit better right now. It’s only when we feel okay that we can be of service to others, so do the things that help you to find a small slice of joy.
Find some appreciation: Go out of your way to notice and acknowledge the things in your life that you appreciate. When the days feel dark, this can be hard. Start small and see where it takes you: I'm grateful for my hot coffee, I'm grateful to have food in my fridge, I'm grateful to wake up in a home with my family. These are things that we can easily take for granted. My experience is that when I can appreciate the good things in my life I feel more optimistic and happier. These emotions carry over and affect my everyday life. Bonus points for sharing your appreciation with someone else, because you get to similarly affect their day, which ripples outwards.
Share a wish of loving kindness. This is a practice that I love to use to close every yoga class. It’s also known as Metta, which originates from Buddhism. I first learned it from my therapist during a very difficult time in my life. She asked me to offer loving kindness to a person that I was indifferent to, and someone who I love and then to myself. It was a pivotal moment for me in seeing how unforgiving I had been to myself and allowed me to really feel how I was feeling in that moment. This practice has stuck with me ever since, because wanting more and better for others feels so good. When I use this practice during yoga, I can sometimes sense that it’s emotional for other people too:
May you give and receive kindness.
May you give and receive love.
May you give and receive peace.
I love this practice because I truly believe that if we could all do these things the world would be a softer, kinder and better place.